Michael Dunn trial set for February

Judge wants to personally review any evidence before public release

Author: Hailey Winslow, General assignment reporter, hwinslow@wjxt.com
Steve Patrick, Managing editor of digital content, spatrick@news4jax.com
Published On: Nov 07 2013 09:58:30 AM EST   Updated On: Oct 24 2013 12:40:00 PM EDT
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Attorneys for Michael Dunn, the man charged with the murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Jordan Davis outside a gas station last year, will stand trial in on Feb. 3.

Dunn is claiming self-defense. He told investigators he starting shooting after threats in a dispute over loud music, claiming he saw the barrel of a gun in the SUV that Davis was in.

Judge Russell Healey, who was upset when Dunn's letters from jail were released to the media, also told prosecutors the hearing Thursday morning that he must personally review any evidence put on the record in the legal process called discovery that allows public access to the material.

READ LETTERS DUNN WROTE FROM JAIL:  To Grandma | To daughter | To unknown
Warning: Letters may contain foul, offensive language

"I did not know they existed until I saw it on the news probably like everyone else did," Healey said last month. "Same thing with witness interviews."

Jordan Davis Healey said his main concern is being able to make sure an impartial jury can be selected in Jacksonville.

State Attorney Angela Corey spoke against the idea if a change of venue -- not only the logistics of the trial, but the addition cost that would be incurred by trying the case elsewhere.

Davis' parents are planning an event to mark one year since their son's death Nov. 23. They'll release balloons with his name at the SeaWalk Pavilion in Jacksonville Beach, and there will also be a candlelight vigil.

After Thursday's hearing, Davis' parents left for Tallahassee to testify at a stand your ground meeting.

"It's been the most difficult, challenging year of my life. The most painful year of my life," Jordan's mother, Lucy McBath, said after the hearing. "But at the same time, the advocacy that we've been given to do has helped me work out my grief. But still, I wouldn't wish this on any parent."

The stand your ground hearing was in front of the Florida House Criminal Justice Subcommittee.

"Florida is becoming the poster child of gun violence in this country," McBath said. "The laws and the way they are written leave too much open to chance, too much ambiguity. People have the ability to take the law in their hands and decide for themselves what is their sense of justice."

"Maybe we could touch one or two hearts in there, and the next time it comes up for a vote, maybe they'll change their mind," said Ron Davis, Jordan's dad. "And that's what we're looking forward to is, looking in their faces, because if you never look in a lawmaker's face and really look into the eyes of a lawmaker and tell him how you feel, you'll never get anything changed."

Jordan Davis used to tell his parents he wanted to do something big with his life to bring forth positive change. His parents said they just didn't realize that change would come after he was gone.

"His father and I are now kind of walking out his legacy," McBath said. "I think he would be very, very pleased with what we're doing because it's not just for him, it's for everyone else who may suffer."